SOS: The Unethical Commission goes into session Monday night on the Case of the Grassroots Treasurer who went up against PG&E in a tight public power campaign. Come and support Carolyn Knee at the Ethics meeting at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall room 408
By Bruce B. Brugmann
Carolyn Knee, the poster girl for how the Ethics Commission is unethically treating treasurers of grassroots campaigns, goes once more before the Ethics Commission at a hearing starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday (July 9) in Room 408 in City Hall.
Carolyn and her attorney have reached a settlement of $267 with the commission's enforcement division, which is one per cent of the amount the staff originally recommended.
But public power supporters fear that the reason her case is on the agenda once again is because at least two commissioners intend to raise questions about the recommended amount.
Carolyn, a retiree on a fixed income, found herself threatened with $26,700 in fines by the Ethics Commission for several alleged violations of campaign finance laws during a random audit of San Franciscans for Affordable Clean Energy, the grassroots group that forced PG&E to the ballot in the 2002 public power campaign.
The point: SFACE raised peanuts during the campaign (a little more than $l00,000) while PG&E spent more than $2 million to defeat the initiative, $800,000 in the final days of the campaign (and PG&E didn't report this critical amount until nearly a month after the election.) Knee was fined l4 times what James Sutton, treasurer of PG&E's front group, was fined. And the commission hassled and hounded her for the past five years or so. (See Amanda Witherell's excellent story, "The ethics of Ethics," in the Guardian and on our website and an earlier Bruce blog headed "Free Carolyn Knee! Free Carolyn Knee from the Clutches of the Unethical Commission.")